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Update on the revision of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG)

September 05, 2013

The Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in the European Higher Education Area were adopted by the European Ministers for Education in Bergen in 2005. Since then, the ESG – prepared by the E4 Group (ENQA, ESU, EURASHE and EUA) – have underpinned the development of both institutional and national/regional QA systems in Europe.

However, the European quality assurance landscape has changed considerably since this time. Thus, from 2010 to 2012 the stakeholder organisations that form the E4 Group carried out the “Mapping the Implementation and Application of the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (MAP-ESG)” project to gather information on how the ESG have been implemented and applied. The project demonstrated that the ESG have been successful in promoting an understanding of good practice in QA, and have impacted on the development of QA both at system and institutional level. The E4 Group decided, nevertheless, to recommend to European education ministers that the ESG would benefit from a revision “in order to improve their clarity, applicability and usefulness”.

At the Bucharest Bologna Ministerial Meeting in April 2012 it was decided that the ESG would be revised with the Ministerial Communiqué outlining that “the revision will be based upon an initial proposal to be prepared by the E4 in cooperation with Education International, BUSINESSEUROPE and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR), which will be submitted to the Bologna Follow-Up Group”.

As a result of this, these organisations mentioned in the Communiqué set up a Steering Group, which is responsible for discussing and agreeing proposals for revising the ESG. A smaller drafting group of experts, involved previously in the MAP-ESG project, supports the Group’s work.

The main features of the revised ESG are due to be presented and discussed in the next Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) meeting in November 2013 after which the Steering Group will finalise the initial proposal to be submitted to the BFUG early in 2014. It is then expected that the Ministers be invited to adopt the revised ESG in their next Bologna/EHEA Meeting in spring 2015 in Yerevan, Armenia.

While the Steering Group continues its work, it can already be noted that it has been guided by some of the key findings of the MAP-ESG project: the need to clarify and simplify the document as well as to update it to correspond to the recent developments in the EHEA.

More information on the revision process is available on this website and further updates will be published through the EUA newsletter.